Thursday, August 28, 2008

the car

i bought a car today. a mazda3 hatchback with a sunroof. i like it. sure it's a 5-speed... and sure i didn't know how to drive a 5-speed (until an hour or two ago)... mere minor details.

the purchase:

i bought the car at carmax, which i have to say, was a pleasant experience. the guy that worked with me was definitely a car salesman, a tad annoying at times, but he was not one bit slimey. he wasn't clever enough to be slimey, and i mean that in a good way. very what-you-see-is-what-you-get. he'd say things that were very not-smooth, which helped his credibility. it sounds like i'm trashing the guy, but seriously, i liked him. also, carmax is bending over backwards to work with my out-of-state credit union. the credit union lady told me over the phone, "girl, are you lucky. i've never known carmax to treat someone this good." maybe it helped that i brought john (a priest) to test drive the car for me (while wearing his priestly collar). so john test drove it, i bought it, and then my friend aimee drove it home. woohoo!

the lesson:

i had a crash course in driving standard. lat ran to my house, we drove back to his house, did a couple laps around his neighborhood (i stalled maybe 10 times on my first left-hand turn), picked up friends for dinner, drove back to lat's... and then i was on my own. it's only a 3-4 mile drive, but it's not direct. anyway, i made it home without stalling once, thanking God for the lack of traffic. 1st gear is really tricky, but the rest isn't too bad.

so now i have a car, but i'll be riding my bike to my morning appointment... maybe driving standard will keep me from driving too much. the bike life has been good.

Monday, August 25, 2008

rains: then and now

i knew when i walked out the door to work this morning that it was going to rain. i was surprised the skies held back as long as they did, finally unleashing their wet fury as i started the walk back home from the office. i didn't mind. i had a ridiculous grin on my face as i walked, glad my umbrella would hide my elation from not-so-considerate drivers, sloshing me in their wake.

i think the rain here is funny. i know it will soon be the start of the shorter rainy season in benin, where the rain seems to shoot up from the ground rather than down (or sideways) from the sky. here, the sidewalks and streets create rivers in a matter of moments. in benin, "potholes" the entire width of the dirt (really, sand) road form green filmed pools of various wastes. i don't mind walking in the rain run-off here. sure, it's full of harsh chemicals, but i've yet to see a man pee on the wall of my home in my nearly 3 months here, so i've got that going for me.

since i was reminiscing a bit, i thought i'd look up my journal from this day a year ago in benin. here's an excerpt on food.

I’m getting better about eating meat off bones and using my hands. Farhan would be proud. I don’t know if I was eating pork or goat tonight… it was tough enough to be goat. It was good though. Meals basically consist of some form of meat (whole fish, pork, chicken, goat, or “bush meat”) and a cheap simple starch. The starch could be couscous or rice, or more likely pounded yam or maize, which looks gross and gelatinous when first served, but then settles and changes to a consistency similar to powdered mashed potatoes. It’s actually pretty tasty. I had fish for lunch, and I tried tasting one of the egg sacs in the fish. It actually tasted kinda like pate, but I couldn’t eat the whole thing just because of what it was. The only thing not eaten here are bones. When you eat fish, that means the brains, eye balls, and everything. I always give Josue the head to eat. Bleh. They serve a whole lot of starch at every meal so you fill up fast and then get hungry later. I don’t always clean my plate, at which point I think of the expression, “There are starving children in Africa.” I know! But a girl can only eat so much rice! Sometimes we have beans, which are called “azingoqui” in Fon. At the camp, the beans came with a side of bugs. I didn’t mind when I found one bug in my food. It had been boiled. No biggie. I showed it to Augustin and he asked, “what is his name?” and I laughed it off. But after finding 4 more (in the same plate of beans, mind you) I decided I’d had enough azingoqui and friends for the day. Every meal, I pray in my head, “God, may this food make me strong and not sick, please. Amen.” So far, so good.

sometimes i miss life in the developing world. maybe you know what i mean.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

new wheels

no, not a car.

i gotta say, for having lived here only 2.5 months, i have some pretty awesome friends. one of which called the owner of "my" local bike shop today (who happens to train some of my triathlon friends) and filled him in on my situation. when i arrived with my poor bike (which is maybe 15 years old), mr. bike man hooked me up with a free (used) wheel and free (used) tires too. i told him i'd been considering moving over to a lighter tread tire, being that i was on sidewalks more than mountain trails, hoping to make my rides through town a bit faster and easier. my bike looks hilarious now, like a drag-racer, says mr. bike man. skinny tire on front, thicker tire on back, but it's a good combination for my needs. when all was said and done, he waved me out of the store with a smile, telling me to come back when i'm ready to buy a road bike... and start training... hmmm... train?

i'm suffering a bit of delayed shoulder pain today, i guess from bracing myself at impact, which i'm hoping is extremely temporary.

other than that, i'm back on the road tomorrow. score.

Monday, August 18, 2008

lauren splats... almost

so much for not blogging...

i got hit by a car tonight on my way to the gym. i was riding my bike on the sidewalk (i'm told this is not illegal and much safer than riding on the road), going against traffic (again, i'm told this is safer), when i came to an intersection. i slowed down, noted the stopped car, checked the green light and the pedestrian crossing, and continued forward into the intersection. i saw the stopped car start into a right turn, realized what was about to happen, swerved, and CRASH. they clipped my back tire, knocking me over, but i caught myself and the bike. i have a few minor cuts and bruises, but nothing major. sadly, my bike will need a little TLC before i'll be able to ride again (slight problem when it's your primary means of transportation), but still nothing major. the lexus that hit me will have to get a new bumper, though... yikes. i didn't get the driver's contact information since 10% of me was scared i didn't have the right of way. i can't afford a lexus bumper. the couple that hit me was more concerned about my ability to walk than anything. i think the little lady in the passenger seat was more shaken up than i was.

anywho... my dad thinks i should get a car.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

onion love

one of my favorite people in the world, who happens to be horrible at updating her blog or sending emails, yet wonderful at "superpoking" and keeping up with my blog, is engaged. i found out via text message last night... oh, how times have changed.

i'm going to call susanne as soon as i finish typing this post to check the facts, but i believe she and ryan met online... and not just any old internet dating service... but the classifieds on the onion. the onion, if you don't already know it, is one of america's oldest ironic news sources. it is the mother of all pop-culture political satire that has peppered our media this past decade. and thank goodness... one needs a sense of humor to survive.

i have friends that have met online and married before... but this is the first onion love i know of. makes me wonder if my friends' threat to give me an online dating membership for my birthday wasn't such a bad idea after all.


Friday, August 15, 2008

time out

my readership has cut in half since i returned to the US... as have my posts... but i'm thinking i'll take the month of august off blogging.

that being said, here's one quick story that furst thought i ought to share.

i went to a wlu party last sunday (alumni function) and met lots of great peeps headed to lex to join the best student body in the world. i was often asked by other adults if this would be my freshman year as well, which made me feel better about my 28th bday last week.

anyway, i barely met this one guy, but he was kind enough to give me his calling card when we parted ways. no, i don't mean business card. i mean he handed me a card with his name and number, likely on crane's cotton paper... very nice. i looked at him and said, "seriously?" my friend lat said the same to me in the car when i said, "i'm intrigued. i think i'll have to call this calling card guy." "seriously?"

so i did. i called him wednesday and asked him questions like, "would you say you're an eccentric person?" still, i was intrigued, so i accepted his invitation to a theme party this weekend... maybe...

i'm curious if this calling card concept yields greater returns than business cards. i did google the guy before calling (i'm not stupid) and he's an investment banker with a major bank. they're a dime a dozen here. so maybe the calling card is where it's at?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

au naturale

i've been experimenting the past few weeks with deodorant. see, antiperspirants are bad for you. really bad. anything with aluminum is bad. this is an especially sensitive topic for peeps with close ties to alzheimer's, which definitely applies to my family. i've disposed of all aluminum pots and pans in my possession, and the next move is from antiperspirants to deodorant. i mean, honestly, i tend perspire with an antiperspirant anyway. i'm okay with that. i'm over it.

i'm currently trying out dr. hauschka's floral deodorant. it smells like roses. but i'm not sure i do. so a lot of effort goes into discreetly smelling myself (not that discreet if i'm blogging about it, of course). if you're near me in the coming weeks, feel free to comment on my aura, if you catch my drift. i'd appreciate the feedback.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

dog flips

i finally joined the ymca yesterday. it's a good 2.5 mile uphill battle on the bike to get there (and back... now i understand the "uphill both ways" concept), meaning i'm exhausted by the time i bike there, work out and bike back. but i'm hoping this will turn into a healthy routine.

i kinda shocked myself at the yoga class yesterday. this is only the 3rd class i've attended in over a year (though i toyed with yoga on my own in benin). this next phrase will make no sense to non-yogis... but we were in down-dog with one leg up and over when the instructor said, "now flip your dog if you want." boom! i flipped my dog! without even thinking about it! that move used to scare me, and here i just stumbled into it quite gracefully. always nice when your body surprises you. i wonder if anyone saw the look of shock on my face.

posts like this will probably lead to an increased drop in readership, but it was seriously one of the highlights of my week.

Monday, August 04, 2008

happy bday benin

benin just celebrated 48 years of independence, as this article states, in nonsensical english. the writer's last name is assogba... wonder if he's related to my friend mathieu? the famous singer and genius behind this video?

Friday, August 01, 2008

garden of the gods

being the international woman of mystery that i am, i run into friends just about everywhere i go. while staying outside of monument, colorado this week (near colorado springs) i had visitors just about every day. kim came up monday, sharing with me the VERY exciting news that she and scott are pregnant! then art and lois came up on tuesday, taking me to the exact same restaurant as the previous evening (but i didn't tell them that because i loooove mexican food). then leslie came up wednesday (she only just moved to colorado two weeks ago) and we ventured off to garden of the gods.

you may remember leslie visited me in benin back in march. it was great to talk to someone that had actually witnessed the craziness of my life abroad. we had a lot of good laughs. we also took a lot of ridiculous pictures, fitting in to tight crevices, acting like idiots, the usual. it's great to have friends all over.